Alibaba exec rapped for saying counterfeits are 'better quality'

Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba, comes under fire for comments

By UNclimatechange from Bonn, Germany (Jack Ma, Alibaba) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba, has claimed that the problem surrounding counterfeit goods is that fake products are often as good as, or even better than, genuine items.

Ma made the comments at Alibaba’s headquarters at the company’s first Investor Day since its public listing in 2014, and received criticism from the public.

The controversy follows the suspension of Alibaba’s membership of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition following several high-profile exits from the group in response to Alibaba’s inclusion. Last month, Ma cancelled a speech due to be held at the group’s conference in the US.

Ma said: “The problem is that the fake products today, they make better quality, better prices, than the real products, the real names. The exact factories, the exact same materials, but they do not use their names.”

However, Ma did also stress that Alibaba was continuing to work on the problem. He said: “We would love to work with the branded companies. We cannot solve the problem 100% because it’s fighting against human instinct. But we can solve the problem better than any government, any organisation, any people in the world.”

Ma also described Alibaba as the “world’s leading fighter of counterfeiting” and said that it was also a victim of the crime. He said that for every fake product sold through one of its platforms, the company loses around five customers.

Alibaba has ambitious plans for growth outside of China, eventually hoping to obtain more than half of its business from overseas markets. The continued problem of counterfeit goods, particularly via consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao, remains a barrier for many western brands.

After Alibaba was welcomed into the IACC, Michael Kors and Gucci announced that they would be leaving the organisation. Michael Kors described Alibaba as one of the industry’s “most dangerous and damaging adversaries”.

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